Review: Jim Beam Black XA Extra Aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2015)

jim beam black extra agedWhile I wasn’t paying attention, Jim Beam quietly updated its venerable Black Label bottling. What was once bottled with an 8 Year Old (“Double Aged”) age statement now carries none. Beam assures me the product in the new bottle is the same as the old Jim Beam Black Label even if the exterior isn’t quite the same. Either way, we got a fresh bottle of XA to offer some 2015 perspective. Thoughts follow.

Jim Beam XA is, as the name implies, a seemingly well aged spirit. A bit of sawdust on the nose leads into notes of fruity apple, cloves, and vanilla ice cream. The palate offers a rich and creamy body, loaded with caramel, vanilla, and some charcoal notes. That lumberyard character sustains here, and some popcorn notes come along as a reprise. The finish is lasting and warming and a bit dusty, for the most part offering a tour of some of bourbondom’s most classic flavors without piling on a whole lot of distracting nuance. In other words: There’s nothing you won’t enjoy here, but it’s short of a standout, too.

86 proof.

B+ / $20 / jimbeam.com

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9 Responses

  1. JM May 31, 2015 / 11:41 am

    Just to clarify.. does this have an actual age statement? I don’t see one on the pictured bottle

  2. Christopher Null May 31, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    No, I tried to make that clear with the second sentence of the review. No Age Statement.

  3. beau June 14, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    Great article Christopher. Jim Beam has a great public relations dept and has answered several questions for me over the years. But…when this product came out and I asked about the 8 years v. the new label they only assured me that JB makes a quality product. Hmmm… Yesterday at Spec’s (story in San Antonio) a bourbon “expert” told me JB is trying to stretch product and the new XA is only 6 yrs old. I think I used to buy a green JB labeled bottle that was 6 yrs old. I don’t know if this is true or not but it pushed me to by the last bottle of 1.75 JB labeled 8 yrs.

  4. Christopher Null June 14, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    The Spec’s guy would have no way of knowing that — though he could very well be right. Who knows?

  5. Don R June 3, 2016 / 7:18 pm

    I saw on the internet somewhere that they are said to use lot’s of barrel’s that are stored in the higher shelves in the warehouse since there is more heat in those areas and because of that, the bourbon ages faster. Supposedly the flavor profile is the same as the 8 year old product of Jim Beam Black. As long as the flavor profile stays the same, I don’t care, but a lot of these really large companies seem to sacrifice quality over quantity. I hope that doesn’t happen with this product.

  6. Mike June 6, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    Got a first bottle for 16 dollars. Not bad for the price, not bad at all.

  7. JB June 7, 2016 / 11:17 am

    A few years back I bought some JB Black in Europe. Instead of the “double aged” 8 year whiskey, this one was “triple aged” for 6 years (*compared to the 2 year standard for bourbon). This marketing trickery makes me dubious of the new “extra aged” labeling.

  8. Sean November 10, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    I’ve been a loyal Black drinker for about ten years. Having gone through 4-5 bottles of the no age statement version after many bottles of the 8y.o. version, I’ve. noticed no discernible difference in flavor profile. Still a terrific bang for your buck.

  9. R craigg December 3, 2016 / 5:06 pm

    Don’t understand the reasoning behind not stating how long Jim beam extra aged is aged. It could mean anything, even 4 yrs plus 5 minutes. Although as a rule I do not like to purchase anything where the label is so vague or perhaps misleading. Local store was priced $21. Mi would have thought extra aging would help to smooth it out but, it had quite a sharp after bite. It is kind of the same bite as I get in the middle of the night waking up to acid reflux. Reminds me of the poor quality of the Devil’s Cut I tried. This is the stuff that used to be discarded down the drain rather than sully the brand name. To be avoided.

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